Basing Basics- Making Custom Bases Pt. 1

I noticed a lack of information on the true basics of basing, so, let’s give it a go. I’ll break this down into several parts so that it’s not overwhelming.

 Any questions? Feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best to answer them while working through this series of articles.

While this will lack a large number of pictures, we will find pictures to insert where we feel the need to explain something a bit more than just text.

The most basic materials needed for success:

– Elmer’s Glue (don’t spend the big bucks on the PVA glue here people, honestly, same stuff as Elmer’s), and most importantly NOT super glue for the basic basing (can be used later for accents such as static grass and grass clumps but never for the base layer!)

– Bottle with tip and cap for basing glue mixture explained below.

– Paper Clip, spare pinning rod, or old small paintbrush (used to spread glue on base)

– Paints necessary for squad ID/Arc marcs and so forth.

(so also, your normal painting supplies here too, cup of water, palette, which I recommend a glass tile from Lowe’s or somewhere similar, as you can clean it off entirely with Windex, even if the paint has sat on it for a long time, and paper towels)

– Warmachine/Hordes miniatures, don’t forget your template to mark your arcs after you’re finished basing and varnishing.

– Your choice of spray varnish

-Basing material of choice!


So, now that we’ve covered the basic items, let’s take a look in depth at each of these, so you can understand a bit more about what/why/how these can be applied to an overall finished product.

I suggest to anyone who does any amount of basing minis with gravel to simply buy Elmer’s Glue (or the non-brand name equivalent), period. It’s inexpensive, available in large quantities at a discount. 128 oz averages around $6.00 for Elmer’s, versus PVA glue from GW comes in at a whopping $8.25 for 15 ml bottle.

For Reference, 1 oz = 29.57ml

So, for the math on this one dollar for dollar, what sounds better to you, the hobbyist:
Elmer’s Glue, $6.00 128 oz, which equals 3785.411800002181 ml

PVA purchase equivalent: 252.4 15ml bottles @ 8.25/bottle, a staggering $2,082.30, before tax!

Bottle with Tip and Screw on Cap
This item, while it may seem unusual on this list is an important one. When you get the glue, you should mix it with water, to an approximate 70% glue 30% water ratio. This allows the mixture to flow better than glue itself, making it easier for basing in general, and it makes what you have for glue last even longer. Making sure to get one with a screw on cap with tip cover so you can mix it and keep it on your table, or with your modelling supplies, so you don’t have to keep mixing it up on the spot for basing. Average cost isn’t more than $3-$4.

Paper Clip/Spare Pinning Rod/Old Brush
This one may seem to some as a trivial, but I am still going to take the time to explain it. When you base a mini, you put a drop of glue on the base about the size of your finger nail, and you need something to spread it out. Using any of the above allows you to control where the glue goes better than simply tapping the base, or trying to tip the model left to right to make if flow about. Use something that’s comfortable for your hands, especially if you’re doing more than 4-5 bases, as your hand will cramp rather easily, and it can make it painful to finish them up. Make sure to use an older brush and rinse it well in cool water after finishing up, and you’ll have the brush to use in the future for basing.

This one is fairly straightforward. Whatever colors you decide on for your basing is what you should have out. You won’t be able to initially paint the material right after gluing it on, but you also need to make sure the base itself is painted properly to assist with your basing (ie space wolf grey color should be on the base to put snow on it..etc explained later) Also, make sure to have black available so at the end you can do the rim of the base. We’ll delve into this much deeper in a bit.

Arc Marking Template
If you play Warmachine/Hordes, you know that your model has an arc of sight. For those that may not have heard of this, or are new to those game systems, it’s a small print out template you place your mini on, and it allows you to mark your 180 degree arc for line of sight. Some miniatures don’t need to have this, however a good number of them do. It’s a free template you can download from the Privateer Press forum, from this link:

I highly recommend spray varnishing your miniature before this process starts. The reason I suggest this is simple: if you don’t like how your base turned out, because you used Elmer’s Glue, you can soak the base in just enough water that, in about 5-10 minutes, it will loosen up the material, and you can carefully take it off, without destroying your figure’s feet. This give you the opportunity for a second or third chance, one that you wouldn’t have if you had chosen to use superglue instead.

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